ONE: Paper-cutting artist Rob Ryan has transformed his Ryantown shop into ‘Ryantoon’, in honour of Newcastle FC. All the products are black and white, and he’s banned colour completely until 15th November. I’m heading over to the Columbia Road area this weekend, so I’ll check it out and report back on Monday!

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TWO: Muji is releasing a new collection of very funky silicone trays – perfect for ice cubes, or making chocolates, or soaps…

muji ice cube traysmuji trays 2I love the idea of serving cold drinks with ice spoons, or a mug of hot chocolate with a solid chocolate spoon on the saucer ready for dunking and stirring – and how cool are the letter moulds for chocolate cake decorations? These silicone moulds are due to hit stores in late November, and will cost from £7.50 each.

tea towels2THREE: Just when you thought there were enough arty tea towels in the world – check out these lovely African-inspired designs at Design My World. They remind me a bit of the funky Anorak patterns, or the new Linea House of Fraser range – animal shapes are all the rage at the moment.

teatowelsI’ve just been sent an exciting book which I plan to read this weekend and share with you all next week…but for now, it’s back to reality with a thud sadly. The dishwasher drawer feature beckons…! Have a lovely weekend x  – Ellie

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Like Valentines Day, I can’t help feeling that Halloween has got a bit commercial these days. When it comes to plastic fangs, rubber rats and glittery skulls (BTW this is possibly the most hilarious ‘crafting idea’ ever from the mighty Martha. Simply dig up a grave…) you can count me out. Having said that, I’m all for a bit of pumpkin soup, some beautiful autumnal leaves scattered on a tablecloth, rustic party decorations, and cute Halloween crafting ideas – just not the whole plastic bat, plastic tat thing.

SweetsI love these pretty sweetie cones made from origami paper and tied with rustic twine. Beautiful – and a great idea for wedding confetti, too. Of course, in reality, any children trick-or-treating at my house on Saturday night are more likely to get a fun-size (what’s ‘fun’ about small?) Mars bar thrust into their sticky paws than a carefully crafted country-style cone, the aesthetic beauty of which would probably be wasted on the greedy little monkeys anyway. But it’s nice to dream.

halloween2If you’re artistic and clever (not sure if I attempted this that it would be a success!) you could carve lovely leaf shapes into pumpkins – much more classy than an evil face but, I admit, not so much fun lantern-wise. There’s nothing like a spot of apple bobbing to spoil guests’ carefully applied face paints – this idea of turning the bucket into a decoration itself is easy and it looks lovely. Float little candles among rosy apples, and choose a rustic metal pail (as opposed to a plastic washing-up bowl), for a gorgeous look.

hallAnother alternative to a scary face on a pumpkin is to cut small circular holes and create an elegant lantern look. By the way, if you’re having pumpkin trouble, the lovely people at House to Home have created a great ‘how-to carve a pumpkin’ video which might help! Check it out. I like these fab painted pumpkins from American Country Living magazine, too:

painted-pumpkin-1009-deSo many lovely ideas! And not a plastic bat in sight. I’m going to a Halloween party this weekend, but as the theme is ‘dead celebrities’, I’m not sure it’s going to be a classy, gorgeously-styled affair sadly… – Ellie

Typefaces treat

October 28, 2009

Obsessed with Helvetica? Got a thing for Wing Dings? Fancy a bit of Futura? If you’re a typefaces geek like me, check out this gorgeous new book: Type, A Visual History of Typefaces and Graphic Styles. It’s a beautiful hard-back book, crying out to be cooed over – the kind of tome that deserves pride of place on your coffee table stack.

typography3Apart from the fact that this is a fascinating read all about the history of fonts and a lovely visual book to own and cherish, there’s another reason why I love it. Each copy comes with a unique access code to a huge online library of high-resolution graphics and typefaces, which you can download and use for free!

typography1Perfect for cheap wall art – I’m going to print a few vintage typeface specimen sheets out and frame them. And imagine the Crafting Potential! I plan to use the downloads to make some personalised stationery, vintage-style Christmas cards, cute labels for homemade jam…and some of the downloads feature vintage chemist labels, which you could print out and glue to jam jars or glass bottles for cheap yet lovely bathroom accessories. Hurrah! – Ellie

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LOST&FOUND: Crafting mojo

October 27, 2009

Today I am obsessing about craft, generally. This lovely new image from Dunelm Mill has got my creative juices flowing and I’m in the mood for some serious making!

dunelm mill sewingI’m glad to be feeling inspired again – recently, my crafting has hit a new low point. A few weeks ago, Bethan and I bought some new knitting needles at the trendy iKnit shop in Waterloo, and treated ourselves to some rather expensive balls of lovely wool, intending to knit chunky scarves for winter. But things have not gone according to plan. Bethan’s knitting attempt was great to start with, except that suddenly she seemed to have somehow reversed the whole thing, and all her stitches came out back-to-front. Neither of us knew how to rectify this. Then, my own little project, which was going so well, was kindly found by the-demented-destructive-kitten, and promptly tangled/chewed/destroyed in a matter of moments. So, the craft revolution is in full swing, but our latest projects have sadly been abandoned. Luckily, we were cheered up and given some fresh inspiration at the HobbyCraft magazine launch party last week. HobbyCraft is thriving at the moment, opening new stores up and down the UK, and the editorial team turned to clever craft experts here at Ideal Home to put together some lovely projects for the first issue, which is out now. Check it out here! I just wish there was a branch of HobbyCraft in central London – it’s tough for urban crafty types to get to a shop as they’re all out of town. Surely the next step in the meteoric rise should be an Oxford Street store for craft-supply-deprived Londoners…pleeeeeease?! – Ellie

Fairy tale time

October 26, 2009

Folklore, magic and homespun charm – flicking through the latest images in the lovely House to Home galleries today, I stumbled upon this gorgeous bedroom. It could be a room inside Snow White’s cottage, and sums up nicely the current vogue for fairy tales and all things folk.

BedroomAfter spying hundreds of toadstools and owls last week at the lovely Anthropologie, I’m getting quite into this trend now. Colourful patchwork, ribbons, pom poms and homemade, knitted accessories – it’s really growing on me! Note how the plastic squirrel, which in any other setting would look tacky, looks cool here. The magic of styling! – Ellie

See inside Anthropologie

October 22, 2009

Is there anything I DON’T want in this shop? Erm, no. London’s new Anthropologie did not disappoint when I checked it out yesterday. It was everything I hoped it would be – and more. The interior of the shop is fabulous in itself, before I even get started on the lovely stock! From the huge luxury changing rooms, to the gigantic whale hanging from the ceiling and the incredible living vertical garden wall with 18,000 live plants in it, this shop interior is by far the coolest London’s ever seen.

anthropologie londonThe plants in the vertical garden are watered by rainwater collected on the roof, and reminded me of an eco-house I saw in Paris recently. Every 12 weeks, a team of style gurus and creative set designers will put together a fresh interior look, so it’s going to be one of those shops you’ll never tire of. I spotted strips of vintage sewing needles on the walls, huge apothecary-style chests of drawers, china plate clocks and a curtain made of tea bags.

anthropologie london2Can I just say at this point that, tragically, just when I needed it most, my stupid digital camera failed me and the battery ran out at a crucial moment, so the images on this post are a mixture of PR shots and some snaps taken by the wonderful Wee Birdy, to whom I am very grateful!

anthropologie ukI spent hours browsing and had to be very restrained spending-wise. I basically liked/wanted everything I saw. It was good to see a mixture of American products and stock from home-grown designers such as Becky Oldfield (stunning Union Jack quilts) and the lovely Lisa Stickley. There were too many interesting home buys to mention, but highlights for me included: paint-by-numbers plates from Trey Speegle, cute stamp sets from Yellow Owl Workshop, gorgeous Tokyo Milk bubble baths, cook books from the likes of Ginette Mathiot, Alice in Wonderland drawer knobs, zinc letters, beautiful cards and notebooks, stylish chemistry-set style flasks, and coloured folksy aprons – straight out of Hansel and Gretel. The new folk trend has been embraced by Anthropologie in a big way – I spotted wooden mushrooms, ceramic owls, folk-style patchwork quilts and an unusual vintage-look book titled: ‘Mushroom Magick, a comprehensive guide to psychedelic ‘shrooms‘!

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anthropologie uk3Even the packaging is delicious at Anthropologie, and I was delighted to be given a little Nathalie Lete lily soap in my red-handled goody bag, which made it twice as nice! ‘Mon savon qui sent bon’…sigh. I’m already planning my next Anthropologie trip. – Ellie

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Antlers, antlers, everywhere

October 21, 2009

Think Dark Romanticism, Gothic Glamour, taxidermy, or, as Lisa refers to it: Night-at-the-Museum-chic. This season, there’s a huge trend towards the dead and decayed – we’re seeing skulls, bell jars, butterflies in display cases and skeletons scattered all over fashion and homes – it’s Natural History meets rock ‘n’ roll. But there’s one design item we just can’t escape. Every collection we see, every press show we go to, every book we open, has a pair of antlers – centre-stage.

Giselle NaturalAntlers have been cool for a while now, but only in designer-style homes. Now, they’re going mainstream. M&S has just revealed a huge, stunning, wooden stag head in its spring/summer 2010 collection, and Crown‘s newest young stencil designer, Bronwen Marshall, has produced a series of very cool antler stencils for The Stencil Library, if you prefer your bones 2D.

Giselle WhiteI’ve seen all kinds of antlers over the past few months. Elegant chrome ones at Next; sparkling Swarovski crystal-encrusted bling bling antlers on the walls of Whisky Mist nightclub;  colourful papier mache stag heads at Rockett St George

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It looks as though the antler trend is in full swing. Do you like them? Loathe them? Own a pair of your own? Let me know what you think! – Ellie

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